Airbus Helicopters will lead the design of a compound rotorcraft demonstrator dubbed “LifeRCraft” (Low Impact Fast & Efficient RotorCraft) as part of Europe’s Clean Sky 2 Joint Technology Initiative, which was formally launched last week in Brussels. Preliminary studies, architecture and specification activity will start this year, with development and testing of components and subsystems envisioned in the 2016-2018 timeframe. Flight evaluations could start in early 2019.
Rotorcraft » Rotorcraft Aircraft
News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft.
AgustaWestland’s AW149 multi-role military helicopter received military certification on July 15 from the Italian Directorate of Air Armaments (Arma Aereo), following completion of trials with the country’s Reparto Sperimentale di Volo (RSV) test center at Pratica di Mare air base. According to AgustaWestland, operational tests are to begin shortly.
Unlike its sister ship the EC225, the EC175’s main gearbox has no backup lubrication system, which could present a problem should it experience a total loss of oil. To compensate for this, its components have been designed to withstand the absence of lubricant for a limited period of time. Airbus Helicopters so far has certified a 15-minute dry-run capability (which involved a 30-minute demonstration). Further tests are scheduled for 2015 in a bid to increase the certified duration to at least 30 minutes.
Certification in hand, Airbus Helicopters is endeavoring to ensure a faultless entry into service of its EC175 medium twin, a critical product for the company in the highly competitive offshore oil-and-gas market. The first delivery, to Belgium-based operator NHV, is planned for the second half of this year, almost five years after the first flight. Thanks to the unprecedented preparation at the company’s headquarters in Marignane, France, and at a customer base, program officials believe an EC175 will be able to operate immediately after delivery.
AgustaWestland last month received the 2014 American Helicopter Museum and Education Center’s achievement award for “advancements in rotary-wing technologies,” based on the Project Zero tiltrotor demonstrator program. Dr. James Wang, the manufacturer’s research-and-development vice president, accepted the award. Led by Wang, the Project Zero team designed, built and flew a 2,200-pound, all-electric vertical lift aircraft in six months. A few flights took place in 2011-2012.
Russian Helicopters is stepping up efforts to strengthen its base of international partners. The move is in part driven by the fact that it can no longer count on Ukrainian engine suppliers Motor-Sich and Ivchenko-Progress in the wake of ongoing political tensions.
Airbus Helicopters recently exhibited some new EMS equipment for the just-certified EC145T2 light twin. Developed with Mecaer, the new cabin installation is available with an “EMS fixed provisions” option. This provides standardized interfaces for customized hardware, thus reducing the outfitting lead time of an interior for medical operations.
The long quest by the U.S. Air Force to acquire a new combat rescue helicopter (CRH) appears to have concluded, with Sikorsky’s announcement that it has received an engineering and development (EMD) contract worth an estimated $1.28 billion for a derivative of the UH-60M Black Hawk.
A Sino-Russian effort to develop a new advanced heavy helicopter was discussed during the recent visit to Shanghai by a Russian delegation headed by President Putin. According to Russian Helicopters general director Alexander Mikeyev, his company has been discussing the project with China’s Avicopter since 2008. “The main parameters of the project have been agreed on. But the work is not yet complete,” he said.
The emergency lubrication system of the EC225 was modified last summer. EASA approved the changes, including replacing the air and glycol pressure switches, modifying the glycol pump and improving the system’s maintenance. The modification eliminates false alarms and cancels flight manual limitations. In other words, a crew can count on a 30-minute lubrication backup in the event of total loss of oil.
The modification approval went relatively unnoticed last year, as the focus last summer was on the shaft itself.